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New Zealand Holiday Costs 2024

How much does a New Zealand family holiday cost? Great question, but one that can be difficult to answer. Given we recently spent two and a half weeks in the North Island of New Zealand, I thought the best way to help you if you’re asking this question, is to just lay all my receipts on the table.

Many of you seemed to really appreciate our Bali trip costs post, so I thought I’d run with the idea and put together a similar post for New Zealand. I know I definitely Google this when I’m planning a trip somewhere, but the information can be elusive!

As you’re reading through this budget, please just keep peak travel season in mind. What I mean by this is that we travelled over Christmas and New Year – this was important for us as we have relatives in New Zealand we haven’t seen since COVID. This meant our costs were much higher than ‘normal’ for some elements (i.e. flights and some accommodation). Finally, flight prices are now starting to come down a bit but we weren’t able to capitalise on that ourselves. Where this is the case, I’ve added extra information and costings to give you a better idea.

All New Zealand travel costs are listed in Australian dollars, with a rough conversion to USD given based on the exchange rate at the time of writing.

Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a booking or purchase, I earn a small commission at no cost to you.

Flights

These were a doozy. Our original plan was to fly into Wellington and out of Auckland, however the flights just kept increasing and increasing before we were able to snap them up. Our booking period also coincided with New Zealand opening up their borders post-COVID, leading to a booking frenzy.

In the end, we were able to book for the four of us (two adults, two children) from Adelaide to Auckland return on a direct flight with Qatar Airways. The total fare for the four of us was $3,900 (approx. $2,600 USD).

This is pretty exorbitant for Adelaide to Auckland, but by the time we booked Air New Zealand was $5,000+ and Qantas was $6,000+ (yes, really!). However, at the time of writing, I can see Adelaide – Auckland prices per person on Jetstar for $588 return, Qatar for $640 return, and Air New Zealand for $760 return. In this case, I’d still stick with Qatar for the full-service direct option that includes baggage.

A quick search on Google flights showed me flights from Los Angeles to Auckland return for around $1,000 USD per person and flights from London to Auckland from around 1,100 GBP per person return.

Accommodation

Where possible, we stayed in accommodation which had separate rooms for us and the kids to sleep in. This was the case in Palmerston North, Hawkes Bay, Taupo, and Coromandel, but not in Auckland or Wellington. Here is a run-down of the prices for each of our hotels:

One night Auckland airport on arrival$153 AUD / $100 USD
One night Wellington city$196 AUD / $130 USD
Two nights Palmerston North
(Christmas Eve and Christmas Night)
$462 AUD / $307 AUD
Three nights Havelock North (Hawkes Bay)$704 AUD / $468 AUD
Four nights Taupo (including New Years Eve)$1,322 / $880 USD
Two nights Coromandel$686 AUD / $456 USD
Three nights Auckland city$727 AUD / $484 USD
TOTAL:$4,250 AUD / $2,825 USD

As you can see, the Taupo accommodation was huge. This is because we were in Taupo for New Years Eve.

The Auckland accommodation was quite dear too – this one rubs salt in the wound because we really didn’t enjoy the hotel we stayed at. In fact, none of the places we stayed in were anything special (except for in Coromandel – that was beautiful) so I do feel like we could have paid less for places we would have been just as happy with.

So what does that tell us? Be clear on what you want! Just because something is expensive doesn’t mean its luxurious, and just because something’s cheap or small doesn’t mean it sucks. Some of the smaller, more unique options just might be the better fit for you and the family. In fact, I’ve since found some glorious places to stay, as have friends and family – we may have been unlucky with availability given the time of year we travelled.

Travel Insurance

We purchased a Cover-More travel insurance policy, as we always do. This policy had a $250 excess and included $5,000 of cancellation cover (we didn’t need any more than this as our accommodation was refundable). We also made sure this policy included COVID coverage and car hire excess in the event we crashed our hire car!

This policy cost $386 ($257 USD) for the four of us.

SIM Card

We purchased a prepaid SIM each so we could stay connected on the road. This was important for a couple of reasons – obviously, running a blog, I didn’t love the idea of not having access to social media in particular (I know, I know). However, being able to connect with family was even more important. We were in another country over Christmas, so being able to wish family back home a Merry Christmas was really important to us. On top of that, we were travelling with other family members, so being able to easily contact them and coordinate itineraries was a necessity.

We paid around $50 AUD ($33 USD) each for prepaid SIMs with SKINNY. These included 40GB of data each and saw us through the whole trip.

We picked these up in a small-town service station on the first day’s drive from Auckland to Wellington. Easy peasy!

Car hire and Fuel

We got sprung here too because we hesitated when booking – this cost us dearly. We paid $1,700 for a Toyota Corolla with Omega car hire. We ran into trouble here also in that the car was too small for us with our luggage. None of this was Omega’s fault – they were amazing to deal with from start to finish.

My in-laws, travelling at the same time as us, booked through rentalcars.com and opted for the mystery car option, and only paid about $850 for the same time as us (16 days)! And they were really lucky – they were given a Rav4. We wished we did this, but what if they gave us something even smaller than the Corolla? We would have been stuffed (even more than the Corolla was).

We also usually pack much lighter, but New Zealand is known for fluctuating weather conditions and we were also travelling with Christmas presents. Packing less was therefore not an option!

In general, we like to book through DiscoverCars as we find they usually have the best rates across most car rental providers – again, we were just travelling at a tricky time of year.

Fuel was nearly double the price in New Zealand compared to Australia – and that’s with crazy fuel prices here! We paid around $2.60 NZD per litre of unleaded petrol (that’s about $2.43 AUD). Comparing that to per gallon in USD seems to be (testing my maths here!) $6.10 USD per gallon.

Looking at our receipts, we spent about $650 AUD / $430 USD on fuel. Yay Toyota Corolla for its fuel efficiency!

Eating out

I honestly don’t know where to start with this one.

Only two of our accommodations included breakfast (a simple but very adequate buffet breakfast in Palmerston North, and a continental breakfast delivered to our room in Coromandel). This meant sorting out our own breakfast as well as lunch and dinner everywhere else. In Auckland and Wellington, we had no cooking facilities in our room, which added to our spending because we had to eat out.

However, in each place, we did want to eat out and try the different places on offer. We considered ourselves lucky to get away with a bill under $100 NZD ($93 AUD / $62 USD).

I’ve added up the meals below as per the receipts I could find. Over Christmas we were generously hosted by relatives in Palmerston North, so we spent very little on food and drink (I think one night we went to the Pak’n’Save to get some simple dinner supplies and made a pasta, because the kids were exhausted and needed an early night). We were also shouted a couple of restaurant meals by our beautiful relatives. I’ve included some takeout as well as more restaurant-type meals to give you a clearer picture.

Some meals aren’t included here such as a fancy blowout meal at the incredible Craggy Range winery, and incidental meals and snacks here and there. Overall I think we spent about $2,000 AUD / $1,350 USD.

Sierra Cafe Wellington – cooked breakfast for four including two coffees and two smoothies$104 AUD / $66 USD
Ramen Ippin Palmerston North – two Ramen bowls
in shopping centre food court
$40 AUD / $26 USD
Sai Napier – Thai lunch for four, no drinks$123 AUD / $82 USD
Macs Brewbar, Wellington – two beers, two juices, plus finger food$88 AUD / $59 USD
Kebabiya Taupo – two large yiroses (kebabs)$ 31 AUD / $20 USD
McDonalds on the way to Coromandel –
family meal deal
$37 AUD / $25 USD
Mussel Kitchen Coromandel – meals for four
inc. one wine, one beer, two juices
$123 AUD / $82 USD
Whitianga Hotel – meals for four inc. one
cocktail, one beer, two juices
$116 AUD / $77 USD
Dos Amigos Auckland – tacos for four people,
two soft drinks, two beers
$119 AUD / $79 USD
Odette’s Eatery Auckland – cooked breakfast
for four inc. four coffees/hot chocolates
$105 AUD / $70 USD
Clearview Estate – four meals inc. wine tasting and juices, two take-home bottles of wine$252 AUD / $168USD
TOTAL: (please note this is a sample)$1138AUD/$757USD

Groceries

When we had cooking facilities (in Palmerston North, Hawkes Bay, Taupo, and Coromandel) we were able to make some of our own meals and reduce our eating out budget. Taupo was particularly great for this because, being in a holiday park, we had access to outdoor barbecues.

Some grocery items were on par with Australia, some were cheaper, and some were more expensive. I do think it mostly came out in the wash, although there was an egg shortage and other assorted shortages driving inflation.

We bought meats for barbecues, and some simple options for breakfasts and dinners such as items for cheese platters, fruit, salad, quiche, and ingredients to whip up a quick breakfast mee goreng. We also bought snacks for long road trips.

Looking at receipts, I think we spent about $250 AUD / $165 USD on groceries.

Activities

There are so many things to see and do in New Zealand’s North Island. Many are free, but others are not. Here’s a rundown of the activities we did and their cost for the family (two adults plus two children aged eight and six).

Wellington Cable Car$25 AUD / $17 USD
Space Place, Wellington Botanic Gardens$45 AUD / $30 AUD
Lido Swimming Centre, Palmerston North$55 AUD / $37 USD
Gannet Safari, Hawke’s Bay$278 / $185 USD
Lake Taupo Sailing trip$164 AUD / $109 USD
DeBretts Hot Springs, Taupo$62 AUD / $41 USD
Waitomo Caves (three caves family pass)$298 AUD / $198 USD
Ruapehu quad biking$459 AUD / $305 USD
Te Puia cultural centre and geothermal
park, Rotorua
$202 AUD / $134 USD
Skyline Luge, Rotorua (inc. photos)$162 AUD / $108 USD
SEALIFE Kelly Tarlton’s aquarium, Auckland$126 AUD / $84 USD
TOTAL:$1,876 AUD / $1,248 USD

We paid $674 AUD for Huka Falls jet (for us and another family of four, so 337 per family) but unfortunately there was a death on this section of the Waikato at the time, so access was not allowed. We were given a full refund.

There were several free activities we enjoyed too. The absolute highlight was Te Papa in Wellington (the national museum) – this is a must on any New Zealand itinerary. However Mount Victoria lookout in Wellington, visiting Arataki Honey in Hawke’s Bay, and marvelling at art deco architecture while strolling through Napier were all brilliant activities.

Skyline Luge Rotorua | New Zealand Travel Costs #familytravel

The total cost

Looking at this list, our total travel cost comes to around $15,000 for a family of four.

This is definitely much higher than we expected, especially coming from Australia. However we really did take a peak season hit.

My advice is this: 1) plan and book well in advance, and try to avoid the busiest times of year; 2) plan ahead in terms of where you’d like to eat and when; 3) book accommodation with a reasonable kitchen so you can make some of your own meals; and 4) do try to pack as light as you can.

I really hope this post helps you to plan and execute the perfect New Zealand holiday, within your budget.

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